Russia will go forward with plans to develop its own missile defense system after the ratification of a strategic arms reduction treaty with the United States, Russia’s Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Wednesday.
The upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, ratified on Wednesday the new arms reduction pact, replacing START 1, which expired in December 2009.
The agreement, signed in Prague last April by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama, slashes the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals to a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200.
“As far as our missile defense system is concerned, we have been developing it and will be further developing it,” Serdyukov said at a session of the Federation Council.
Russia is currently in talks with NATO on building a joint missile defense shield in Europe. However, President Medvedev said on Monday that Russia will have to deploy a nuclear missile grouping if no agreement is reached.
Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate in the creation of the European missile defense system in Lisbon in November last year. The parties agreed to formulate terms for missile defense cooperation by June 2011.
Serdyukov also said Russia’s armament program for the next 10 years is in compliance with the limit set for the number of strategic missiles and warheads under the new START treaty.
“For the next 10 years we have a program on what amount of missiles will be placed on combat alert, but even then we will not reach the parameters stated in the treaty,” he said.
Russia currently has a higher number of nuclear weapons than that permitted by the new treaty, but will scrap large numbers of older weapons and introduce much smaller numbers of new systems.
“The potential we have today is enough to ensure full security of the Russian Federation,” Serdyukov said.